Letters to the editor on K-12 funding, testing revolt, motorcycle helmets, Kansas suffrage, moms

10/29/2013 5:10 PM

10/29/2013 5:10 PM

Brownback cut per-pupil funding

As a member of the Kansas House Education Committee and a longtime member of United School Administrators of Kansas, I must take exception with Gov. Sam Brownback’s commentary (“Kansas schools not being shortchanged,” Oct. 27 Opinion). The governor stated that Kansas education has received an additional $200 million since he took office, but he failed to mention that the base per-pupil spending has decreased under his administration. The three-judge panel’s ruling that supported the school-funding lawsuit against the state attributed the current financial situation to a self-imposed crisis caused by the governor and his allies cutting taxes to nearly 200,000 business owners in the state.

I also need to respond to the letter by my friend and colleague Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita (“Concerned for kids,” Oct. 27 Letters to the Editor). Though I understand her concern for children whose parents may not be able to afford the cost of vaccinations, my experience as a principal for 25 years in USD 259 has been that free clinics in Wichita can accommodate those students who qualify. Furthermore, parents were notified before school began that children must have vaccinations for their own good health and that of their classmates. The district has already given a three-month extension.

Surely, as responsible parents and concerned community members, we want all children to be safe from preventable childhood diseases.


District 83, Kansas House


Testing revolt

Resistance is growing across the country to the usurpation of valuable childhood opportunity for essential learning. From the open letter to President Obama signed by authors of children’s books (Oct. 23 Eagle) to the parents at the Castle Bridge School in New York City refusing to have their children as young as 4 fill in meaningless bubbles on the “high-stakes” national tests, momentum is growing to reform President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law and Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiative. Critics see these programs as efforts to privatize education using business models for accountability. Testing becomes the standard for determining success.

Profit margins are marginalizing the true purpose of schooling. True learning takes place when children have time to explore, to investigate and to discover through play how to solve social and practical situations.

Author Maya Angelou pleads for emphasis on the arts. Diane Ravitch, education historian and author of “Reign of Error,” laments the gross mismanagement of time spent on testing. Peter Gray, evolutionary psychologist, warns that the current focus robs our children of skills needed for survival.

Readers, which path do you choose?



Wear helmet

During the summer months you see passionate motorcyclists showing their support by riding their two-wheeled machines on the road, but does anyone stop to recognize the safety equipment they are wearing? For many people this may not be a concern at all, but for me it is rather disturbing to see these riders on the streets without proper gear such as a helmet.

In a vehicle, it is illegal to drive without a seat belt. What gives the motorcycle rider the right of not wearing a helmet? Not only would the casualty rate of motorcyclists go down if they all wore helmets, it also could help significantly improve the injuries endured if a crash were to happen.

So the next time you talk to a friend who owns a motorcycle, think about the precautions he takes to ensure his safety while on the street.



White men only?

Regarding “Kansas is safeguarding integrity of elections” (Oct. 26 Opinion): It was interesting that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach referred to the language of the Kansas (Wyandotte) Constitution, which limited the right to vote to United States citizens. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that slaves, former slaves and descendants of slaves were not U.S. citizens. When the Kansas Constitution was adopted two years later, that was the law. To make their intent quite clear, the authors of the Kansas Constitution also specified that the right to vote was provided only to “every white male person, of 21 years and upward.”

Such an election might improve Kobach’s and his party’s electoral prospects.


Eugene, Ore.

Put moms in charge

It’s not often that I find a cartoon inspirational, but “Family Circus” was spot-on recently. The single frame of the cartoon showed the mom pointing to the open door of a child’s room. A little boy was crying and marching through the door. The caption read: “Go to your room! And if that doesn’t work for you we’ll have to impose some ECONOMIC sanctions.”

That made me realize how wonderful mothers are. If mothers had been running Syria, do you think that the chemical weapons attack would have occurred? If our Congress and our White House were filled exclusively with mothers, would we be arguing over health care or debt limits, or be waging war when many of our children go to bed hungry?

What a wonderful world it would be if our mothers were allowed to run it. I doubt we’d ever see another puppet dictator rise to power and oppress people.



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